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Published: Monday, 1/9/2006

Kaptur won't run for statewide office


U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur will pass on the Ohio governor's race and seek re-election instead.

Miss Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat, told The Blade yesterday that she will pull the papers necessary to run for a 13th term sometime today, ending her latest exploration of a statewide run.

She said the decision turned on distaste for the massive fund-raising she'd need to replace term-limited Gov. Bob Taft and worries about giving up two decades of congressional seniority.

"I just think it's too great a risk for too little a reward," she said.

The head of the influential United Auto Workers union in Ohio said last month he was encouraging Miss Kaptur to join the governor's race, which many Democrats believe their party could win this year to break a four-term losing streak.

Miss Kaptur, who has discussed running statewide - and for president - in years past, said she was considering it.

Constituents told her to stay put, by a two-to-one margin, Miss Kaptur said yesterday. She read aloud three such comments, including one from a fellow parishioner who told Miss Kaptur she prayed for her to do "the most good for the most people."

Miss Kaptur said she can do that in Congress, working on issues such as international trade, outsourcing of American jobs, energy independence, pension security, and the Iraq war - and standing up for the Midwest, a region she said stands to lose political clout in coming years because of national population shifts.

"The seniority that I hold belongs to the people in the district," said Miss Kaptur, adding later: "It is a district that needs voice."

Her decision averts what likely would have been a political free-for-all in northwest Ohio, with legions of up-and-coming Democrats and Republicans vying for her congressional seat.

It leaves Democrats with three avowed candidates for governor: Congressman Ted Strickland, former State Sen. Bryan Flannery, and State Sen. Eric Fingerhut. Republican candidates include Ken Blackwell, the secretary of state; Attorney General Jim Petro; Auditor Betty Montgomery; and general contractor Pete Draganic.

Mr. Strickland, whom analysts consider the front-runner among Democrats so far, said Miss Kaptur's move pleases him.

"Marcy is a good friend," he said, "the dean of our Democratic delegation in the House of Representatives, and someone I greatly respect and admire."

Mr. Strickland added that he believes Democrats could gain control of the House this fall, which would require the party to win at least 15 seats currently held by Republicans, without losing any of its own.

If that happened, he said, Miss Kaptur would become "one of a handful of the most powerful leaders in the House."

She is one of the highest ranking Democrats on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Contact Jim Tankersley at: jtankersley@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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